"Jen Reel, a multimedia editor for The Texas Observer, had been documenting the harrowing journeys that migrants make through the deep sands and thorny brush of south Texas,"Tamar Wilner reported Wednesday for Columbia Journalism Review.
"That work would become 'Beyond the Border,' the award-winning 2014 series written by her colleague Melissa del Bosque and produced by the Observer and The Guardian. But on this day in 2013, Reel and del Bosque were at the lab of Lori Baker, a Baylor University forensic anthropologist.
"They saw researchers examining a backpack that had been found alongside human remains. Inside were typical toiletries — deodorant, tweezers — and a baseball. . . . "
Baker founded the Reuniting Families Project in 2003 to establish a system for the identification of the remains of deceased undocumented . . . migrants found along the U.S./Mexico border, according to its website.
"The RFP is now a consortium of forensic scientists who recover the remains of unidentified individuals from pauper graves in cemeteries along the U.S. Southern border. Attempts are made to associate the remains with law enforcement case reports but this is often difficult due to the lack of grave markers and the lack of cemetery records or maps designating individuals. . . ."
"So Reel took an idea to her publisher," Wilner continued. "Could the Observer fundraise to build a browsable, searchable, and mobile-friendly tool that would allow families to view items found with remains, and make the connection to their missing loved ones?
"Her bosses agreed, and a campaign is now underway for the project, I Have a Name/Yo Tengo Nombre, on the journalism crowdfunding platform Beacon. The Observer aims to raise $10,000 from the general public and $10,000 in matching funds from Beacon itself, which has pledged to spend $3 million on immigration-related projects on its site. . . . As of Wednesday morning, the project was two-thirds of the way to its goal, with nine days left to the deadline. . . ."
"In the photograph that made Kim Phuc a living symbol of the Vietnam War, her burns aren't visible — only her agony as she runs wailing toward the camera, her arms flung away from her body, naked because she has ripped off her burning clothes,"Jennifer Kay reported Sunday for the Associated Press.
"More than 40 years later she can hide the scars beneath long sleeves, but a single tear down her otherwise radiant face betrays the pain she has endured since that errant napalm strike in 1972.
"Now she has a new chance to heal — a prospect she once thought possible only in a life after death.
"'So many years I thought that I have no more scars, no more pain when I'm in heaven. But now — heaven on earth for me!' Phuc says upon her arrival in Miami to see a dermatologist who specializes in laser treatments for burn patients.
"Late last month, Phuc, 52, began a series of laser treatments that her doctor, Jill Waibel of the Miami Dermatology and Laser Institute, says will smooth and soften the pale, thick scar tissue that ripples from her left hand up her arm, up her neck to her hairline and down almost all of her back.
"Even more important to Phuc, Waibel says the treatments also will relieve the deep aches and pains that plague her to this day.
"With Phuc are her husband, Bui Huy Toan, and another man who has been part of her life since she was 9 years old: Los Angeles-based Associated Press photojournalist Nick Ut.
"'He's the beginning and the end,' Phuc says of the man she calls 'Uncle Ut.''He took my picture and now he'll be here with me with this new journey, new chapter.'
"It was Ut, now 65, who captured Phuc's agony on June 8, 1972, after the South Vietnamese military accidentally dropped napalm on civilians in Phuc's village, Trang Bang, outside Saigon. . . ."